Always looking for a positive spin can sometimes be exhausting. There, I said it! With honesty, I confess that occasionally the urge to wallow in self-pity can be overwhelming. I try to channel self-compassion, because I know I can easily be triggered to feel pain from my past without even realizing it. I am fortunate to have dodged any recent major tragedies, so I feel guilty when I get depressed over smaller things.
In November, I decided to undergo an elective brow-lift procedure. It would allow me to open my eyes more and was not for cosmetic reasons. I’ve dealt with severe dry eyes for ten years now and the heaviness from my sagging brows added more discomfort.
I didn’t want a scar above my eyebrow, so the plastic surgeon recommended another approach named “Brow Pexy.” The eyelid is cut in the fold and peeled back. Then a dissolvable stitch is put underneath that anchors the eyebrow to the eye socket higher up. Eventually, scar tissue replaces the stitch over time. Given the choice to undergo a local anesthetic or general anesthesia, I chose to go through it awake.
I would describe the entire experience as pretty brutal. I definitely felt sharp pain as he worked on me. It involved 90 minutes of lying still while the surgeon and his assistant tugged, cauterized (nasty smell) and re-injected me with oodles of local anesthetic. His growling stomach noise went on the whole time and was very unsettling.
I tried not to squirm when he complained that I was a “bleeder” and said, “Did you know you are resistant to local anesthesia? Most people don’t require so many injections.”
After an interminable 90 minutes, I was bandaged and trudged slowly toward the parking lot where my son waited to pick me up. I held an ice pack on my forehead and moaned from a horrible headache. Over the next few days, I openly wept and struggled to think clearly.
For another two weeks, my weeping over little things continued. After one week the stitches came out, which helped. I had to avoid exercise and the isolation aggravated my depression. I slept a lot. I waited to experience any kind of benefit, but was far too swollen to notice anything. My respite came with visits from special friends, which kept my tears flowing.
I had a follow-up appointment with the plastic surgeon three weeks later. I wondered what he would say, because in my gut I didn’t see much difference. Unfortunately, he agreed that my brows were about the same as before.
I asked him if I could have broken the delicate inside stitch by sneezing, (that was so painful it almost knocked me out.) He replied that he wasn’t sure and reiterated that Brow Pexy was a very subtle approach and not really a significant lift for eyebrows. He mentioned some other ideas we could try later on – like a temporal facelift. As he talked about it, my mind drifted off – I had zero interest in considering any further surgery.
I left that appointment and had a good cry in my car.
Thankfully, my positive spin filters finally kicked in. I decided “less was more.” As the swelling went down, I decided that perhaps this was exactly what I needed, something subtle. He had also taken off a little bit of eyelid, which was a slight difference and I noticed that my eyes were slightly more open.
That was good enough for me!
The day before my eyebrow procedure, I went for a walk at a beautiful park with a good friend. I brought a plastic bag so I could collect autumn leaves and left with a lovely assortment that day. For several months, I hadn’t felt like painting, but I was ready to create something that appealed to me – even though I had done autumn leaves the year before. It would give me something to do while I was healing.
It took about five days for me to photograph the leaf collection after my surgery. Even though my eyes were swollen, somehow I could still light and arrange them. Not all of them retained their color and shape, but most were good enough. I sorted out the best photos and created a composite using Photoshop.
I painted with watercolor dyes and carefully followed my layout. I was satisfied if I could paint a leaf or two every other day. My painting slowly unfolded into a beautiful tapestry of color and texture. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the more leaves I painted – the more exciting it was to see everything filling in and coming together.
After almost a month of annoying brain fog and depression, I began to pop out of it.
I started performing again on the meditation app, Insight Timer. It felt good to be back, singing the inspiring songs that helped heal and uplift me.
And then came another whisper in the darkness – I heard a new song forming! Exquisite guitar passages enveloped me and my heart swelled with joy. Just when I needed something to pull me through, this new music appeared!
It was three years since I last composed anything new. I planned to record my new song, but was still exploring the multitude of passages and combinations. With excitement, I played my new guitar instrumental live on Insight Timer. Tentatively, I named it “My Hopeful Heart,” which spoke to my steadfast wish to heal. But my subconscious held onto the title “Autumn Hope.” I am working on releasing it on Insight Timer soon and share an except of it at the beginning of this post.
My oldest son came to visit over the holidays. Having my two sons together was simply wonderful. As I painted autumn leaves, I enjoyed listening to their laughter while gaming.
This was definitely a holiday I would never forget. My daughter became officially engaged, and that was something else to celebrate.
But it was the joy of creating new music that lifted me right out of my funk. I am ready to begin the New Year with optimism and hope.
My hopeful heart continues to beat with love. I love my children, my creativity, and my life.